It can happen in an instant. Your car is totaled and your leg is broken in several places. You may be in a cast for months.
What if the other driver has no insurance?
Fourteen Percent of Drivers Have No Insurance
If you feel quite secure because you’re thinking that states require drivers to have car insurance, think again. Not every state does require it. If the driver next to you is from one of the states that don’t, they might not be insured.
It’s surprisingly common to drive without insurance. Across the country, an estimated 14% of drivers don’t. Even when a state mandates insurance coverage before registering a car, some drivers drop coverage once their car is registered.
If you also feel secure because you’re aware that New York is a “no-fault” auto insurance state, think again. No-fault generally means that everyone in a car with New York state insurance is covered by their own insurance. Therefore, even if the other driver caused the accident, your car insurance pays for your medical bills and any other damages from a car accident.
Under the no-fault system, which New Jersey also has, it might seem unimportant whether the other driver has insurance or not.
Exceptions to No-Fault Law
But wait. New York State law provides for exceptions to the no-fault rule. In these exceptions, injured motorists are allowed to bring suit against a driver who caused the accident, either by filing a liability insurance claim or bringing a personal injury suit. You can do this if a negligent driver caused you to have:
- A broken bone
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or limb
- Significant limitation of a body function or system
- Substantially full disability for 90 days
In New Jersey, you can sue the other driver for similar serious injuries, including:
- Loss of a body part
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant scarring
- A fracture that is displaced
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury (not expected to heal)
Both New York and New Jersey law also provide for comparative fault. So if a car accident case goes to trial and a jury finds that you were 20% responsible and the other driver 80% responsible, the other driver has to pay 80% of your claim.
So what do you do in those cases if the other driver has no insurance?
While it is possible to sue for personal injury, in many cases the other driver will not have assets significant enough cover an injury.
Purchase Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
One option is to purchase uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage. Most insurance companies are required to offer this as an option.
In New York, motorists must have uninsured motorist coverage as part of their policy. They can buy underinsured motorist coverage as a supplement to a standard policy.
When You Need a Lawyer
Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have decades of experience litigating car accidents and insurance payments in New York state. We can assist you in any accident. Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and possible next steps. Call today for a free consultation with an experienced New York City and Long Island car accident lawyer.
More information on what to do if you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver in New York:
- Brinson, Linda C. “What Happens If You’re in An Accident With An Uninsured Driver?” How Stuff Works. http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/auto-insurance/accident-with-uninsured-driver.htm
- State of New Jersey. Department of Banking and Insurance. What You Should Know About…Filing an Uninsured/Underinsusred Motorist Property Damage Claim. http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/ins_ombudsman/wysk3.htm
- New York State. Department of Financial Services. Consumer Frequently Asked Questions. Auto Insurance. http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/faqs/faqs_auto.htm